What is new in Biblical Archeology?
In 1952 it was my privilege to present three addresses at the Bible conference held in Takoma Park, Mary land, on "Recent Discoveries Confirm the Bible." These presentations were published in the first of the two-volume work Our Firm Foundation, published in 1953 by the Review and Herald Publishing Association, pages 61-116. I re viewed the field of Biblical archeology and showed how it helps us to under stand and defend the Scriptures. In 1952 we were still basking in the unexpected discovery of the first Dead Sea scrolls, made only four years earlier, and rejoiced that they so marvelously con firmed the traditional Hebrew text of the Old Testament, although they were more than a thousand years older than the earliest Hebrew Bible manuscripts known up to that time. It was about the same time that Prof. W. F. Albright, the greatest Biblical archeologist then alive, said that the advance made in Palestinian archeology since 1935—that is, during the previous seventeen years—"easily dwarfs the sum of all relevant discoveries during the preceding century in its total impact on our knowledge of the Bible." 1
Twenty-two years later, in 1974,1 was again privileged to address the delegates of three Bible conferences that were held in North America. Since the central theme was "Revelation and Inspiration," my talks were entitled "Biblical Archeology as Aid to Biblical Exegesis." These talks were also given to all delegates in written form in loose-leaf notebooks.
In these talks I dealt primarily with discoveries that had been made since the Bible conference of 1952. I shall briefly summarize them for you:
1. The discovery of papyri from Elephantine presented us for the first time with calendrical evidence, which we badly needed, to defend the date 457 B.C. for the return of Ezra from Babylon, a date that we Adventists had always considered as the starting point of the 2300- year prophecy of Daniel 8:14. 2
2. The discovery of several biographical stelae of Tirhaka in Nubia showed that King Sennacherib of Assyria must have campaigned twice against Hezekiah of Judah,3 as Ellen White maintains in Prophets and Kings, page 339. This discovery had come to our notice just as we were putting the finishing touches on the second volume of The SDA Bible Commentary, which contains the Books of Kings. It thus enabled us to incorporate the new information in our discussion of Sennacherib's campaigns against Hezekiah.
3. The discovery of some cuneiform tablets containing the chronicles of Nebuchadnezzar's early years of reign shed light on the last years of the existence of the State of Judah. They refer to the capture of Jerusalem under King Jehoiachin, his captivity, and the accession to the throne of Zedekiah, the last king of Judah, on March 16/17, 697 B.C. (converted to our calendar). 4 Since very little was known from non-Biblical sources concerning the events of this time, and the accuracy of the Biblical narratives connected with the Babylonian captivity was quite widely questioned by liberal scholars, this discovery was a real help for conservative students of the Bible.
4. The excavations of Biblical Shechem, in which I participated as a staff member, presented us in 1960 with evidence for a date for the reign of King Abimelech, the son of the Judge Gideon. When we excavated the temple of Baalberith at Shechem, mentioned in Judges 9, we were able to date the destruction of that temple by Abimelech. The date thus obtained agreed with the date for Abimelech's short reign of three years, which had been published already in the SDA Bible Dictionary,5 a date we had arrived at on the basis of chronological data found in the Bible.
5. The discovery of a large horned stone altar in the excavations of Beersheba in 19736 shed light on two passages in Amos (chaps. 5:5 and 8:14) that seemed to indicate that a sanctuary had existed in that city. The stone altar con firmed this interpretation.
6. During the excavations of Biblical Heshbon under the auspices of Andrews University, a huge open-air pool came to light, near the top of the acropolis, which could contain three hundred thousand gallons of water. 7 There can be no doubt that it is one of the pools that are mentioned in Song of Solomon 7:4.
7. Another interesting discovery, made in 1960, was a letter of a poor hired man written on a piece of pottery in the time of King Josiah. It contains a com plaint against his foreman for having taken his coat from him under the pretext of having found him loafing, while in reality he had taken his legitimate Sabbath rest after having completed his as signed work. 8 This letter, dated to c. 630 B.C., contains the first mention of the Sabbath in non-Biblical documents.
I will not go over these subject matters again, but will tell you of some exciting new finds made in recent years, for it is a fact that in Biblical archeology an eruption is taking place that is almost over whelming. I will give you a few statistics that will illustrate this point. Between the turn of the century and the outbreak of World War I—14 years—nine major archeological expeditions worked in Palestine. 9 During the twenty-one years be tween the two world wars, from 1918 to 1939, thirty major archeological expeditions carried out excavations in Pales tine. 10 But since the end of World War II, seventy-six major and numerous minor archeological expeditions have been engaged in, in the Holy Land, east and west of the Jordan River. 11 In 1940 a Biblical scholar needed to read nine learned journals in English, French, and German, which primarily dealt with Palestinian archeology, if he wanted to keep up to date with what was going on in that field. By 1977 this number of journals had swollen to sixteen, with a total annual subscription price of $237. Who among ministers can keep up with this avalanche of articles and books on Biblical archeology in order to obtain full information about discoveries in this ex citing discipline?
Two congresses I attended in 1977 made it very clear to me that Palestinian archeology has become one of the most exciting disciplines of modern times. First I attended the centennial meetings of the German Palestine Society in Tubingen, Germany, in November, 1977. Quite a few archeologists from all over the world whose main work had been done in Palestine were in attendance. They presented papers and exchanged views for a whole week. In fact, it was the first time that a congress met comprised solely of Palestinian archeologists. A few decades ago professionals of this discipline could have easily gathered in a large living room. Now a hall that seated hundreds of people was needed.
A month later, in December, 1977, I attended the annual meetings of the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR), which by tradition meets with the Society of Biblical Literature and the American Academy of Religion. It is not many years ago that during these annual meetings one evening was devoted to archeological reports presented by excavators who had just returned from Palestine. But the number of expeditions working in Israel and Jordan has mushroomed to such an extent that archeological reports were presented at all times during the three days of the congress, sometimes in two halls at the same time. Since I was eager to hear as many of the archeological papers as possible, I was not able to listen to even one non-archeological Biblical presentation—the first time that I had such an experience during the thirty years that I have at tended these annual conventions. Prof. Philip King, the president of the ASOR, mentioned this accelerated pace of archeological activities in the Bible lands and told the delegates that in 1977 the ASOR had been involved in twenty-seven archeological projects in six lands, more than it had been associated with during the first fifty years of its existence, and that it now has institutions with their own staffs in four countries.
The result of all this activity is obvious. Much new material is being unearthed that has some bearing on the Bible, though one should not forget that the pick and trowel of the archeologist also brings to light an enormous mass of material that only duplicates what we already have or know, and which deals with periods in which Biblical scholars are not interested, for Palestine existed also during many centuries with which the Bible is not concerned. I shall naturally limit this material to recent findings that illuminate the Scriptures, fill gaps in our knowledge of Biblical history, or vindicate the Bible's historical claims.
It is only fair to point out that some of the new finds raise new questions for which ready answers are not always available. The information provided by archeological discoveries is often very fragmentary, and it does not always give us a clear picture of what happened at a certain moment in ancient times. Some times it happens that a particular discovery happily solves a problem with which Biblical scholars have wrestled for a long time, but at the same time creates a new one, which formerly did not seem to exist. An example in this respect is provided by the discoveries made at Ebla, which will be discussed below.
Archeologically speaking, we live in an exciting time. Never before in modern history has so much material become available to illuminate and defend the Scripture. For the past year or so I have spent most of my time in revising the SDA Bible Dictionary, the first edition of which was published nearly two decades ago. During the course of this work I have constantly been surprised by the amount of new material, unearthed in recent years, that needs to be incorporated into the new edition, which contains about 120 more pages than the first edition had. It is my prayer that this dictionary will continue to serve our teachers, evangelists, and pastors in providing them with reliable information they can use in their sermons.
One more point. Archeology has be come an increasingly useful means of drawing all 'classes of people to our evangelistic meetings, because they are more than ever interested in archeological subjects. During the nearly three decades that have passed since I began teaching archeology in our Theological Seminary I have seen more and more of our evangelists use archeological subjects as a drawing card. This method was pioneered especially by our Australian evangelists, such as the late Pastor John Coltheart, whose methods are now fol lowed by many evangelists all over Eu rope, and Pastor A. G. Ratcliffe, who applied it successfully in North America, and many others whose names are now legion.
With these introductory remarks out of the way, let us now discuss some of the most recent archeological discoveries of great importance.
Sensational Finds From the Patriarchal Age
Only three years ago the name Ebla would have meant nothing to the average Biblical scholar. Perhaps only one in a thousand would even have known that it was the name of an ancient city. This situation has drastically changed, and overnight the name Ebla has become a household word among students of the ancient Near East, who are now just as well acquainted with Ebla as they are with Tell el-Amarna, Elephantine, or Qumran.
It was in the summer of 1971 that I paid a visit to Tell Mardikh, a large tell in northern Syria (about halfway between Hama and Aleppo), where an Italian expedition had been engaged in annual excavations since 1964. I was given a guided tour of the tell by its director, Prof. Paolo Matthiae, of the University of Rome, who as a young archeologist of 24 had begun the excavations at this site seven years prior to my visit. I had the feeling that he was somewhat disappointed with the results so far obtained, although the discovery of a torso of an inscribed stone statue had identified the large site of Tell Mardikh with Ebla, an ancient city mentioned occasionally in cuneiform records of the late third millennium B.C.
But things changed in 1974, when a cache of forty-two cuneiform tablets was found in the palace area as it was being excavated. The expedition's epigrapher, Prof. Giovanni Pettinato, recognized the tablets as commercial or administrative documents written in Sumerian cuneiform characters, but in a language that he identified as Early Canaanite. This was only a harbinger of better things to come, for in 1975 a really sensational find was made that ranks the discoveries made at Ebla with the scroll discoveries made at Qumran or with the archive unearthed at ancient Ugarit. Here at Ebla an archive of 15,000 cuneiform tablets came to light, which originally had been stacked on wooden shelves on their edges, like phonograph records. When the palace was destroyed by fire some four thousand years ago, the shelves burned to ashes and the tab lets, baked by the fierce fire, fell in heaps to the ground. Some broke in the process, but the majority of them are in a remarkably fine state of preservation.
As the tablets were examined they revealed themselves to be of different kinds. Most of them deal with trade and administrative activities. Evidently the royal house carried on, as a state monopoly, international trade in textiles, copper, timber, and precious stones with all parts of the known world. Some tab lets contain treaties with other states, correspondence with rulers of distant cities, and royal decrees. A few of the tablets are literary texts, including the Canaanite version of the creation of the world and of the Flood. Also a Canaanite code of laws is reported to be present. Several tablets are lexicographical texts, which contain long lists of Sumerian words with their equivalent words in the Canaanite language, comparable to modern bilingual dictionaries.
Many tablets are written in Sumerian, the earliest known language reduced to writing, but others are in the Early Canaanite language, which was adopted by the patriarchs when they settled in Canaan and which is now called Hebrew. From the tablets so far deciphered, a new picture evolves for Syria at the end of the third millennium B.C. We learn that Ebla was a large city with a population of 260,000, of whom 11,000 worked as civil servants for the palace. Among the names are many that have a good Biblical sound such as Abramu (Abraham), Ishmailu (Ishmael) and Israilu (Israel). It is curious to find that the name of the third of the six kings of Ebla, whose names we know, was Ebrum, the equivalent of the Biblical Eber, who appears among the ancestors of Abraham (Gen. 11:15-17). Of interest are also the cities of Palestine with which the kings of Ebla were in correspondence: Hazor, Lachish, Megiddo, Gaza, Dor, Sinai, Ashtarot, Joppa, and others. It is most interesting that Jerusalem appears in these texts under its original name Salem, just as it is called in the Bible in the time of Abraham (chap. 14:18). But even these startling discoveries did not mark the end of sensations that Ebla seems to have in store for us.
In September, 1977, an article on the discoveries made at Ebla appeared in an issue of Scientific American, which I picked up in a doctor's office. There I read the following incredible sentence, "The listing of the five 'cities of the plain,' Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim and Bela (14:2), is duplicated in an Ebla text and the names appear in the same order." This was too good to be true, and I questioned its accuracy. However, two months later I listened to a lecture given by Prof. Noel Freedman, director of the W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem, who had stopped in Rome on his way to America. He confirmed this re port. Since then even the number of the Ebla tablet has become known (no. 1860), which mentions the five cities in the same order as Genesis 14. Professor Freedman also claimed that the king of Gomorrah, mentioned in the tablets, bears the name Birsha, the same name the king of Gomorrah had in Abraham's time (verse 2).
Much more could be said about this sensational find, which constantly produces new revelations as more and more tablets are being read by the epigraphers. In fact, since the great discovery of 1975, when about fifteen thousand tab lets came to light, the palace ruins of Ebla have continued to provide additional tablets during the excavation sea sons of 1976 and 1977, with the result that the total number of tablets in this archive is now about twenty thousand.
Already much has been written on Ebla, 12 and soon a whole new literature will develop on this subject, although many years will pass before all the tab lets will be available in translations. One difficulty for Biblical scholars concerns the date of the archives, which has not yet definitely been established, although both the archeologists and the epigraphers date them in the third millennium B.C., c. 2400-2250 s.c. 13 If these dates are correct there are only two alternatives: Either they were written several centuries before Abraham's time and reflect conditions that preceded the age of the patriarch, or the generally accepted dates for the patriarchs must be revised. W. F. Albright, Nelson Glueck, and others placed the Biblical patriarchs in the Middle Bronze Age, 14 a date that agrees with the dates adopted in the SDA Commentary Reference Series, 15 giving for Abraham's call the date 1875 B.C., several centuries later than the currently accepted dates for the Ebla archive.
An added difficulty comes from an other direction. In recent years an intensive archeological activity has taken place on the plain southeast and south of the Dead Sea. There the remains of five cities with large cemeteries have been discovered. All five cities seem to have been destroyed by fire at about a time that archeologists call the Early Bronze III-IV period, c. 2400-2000 s.c. 16 Some scholars have cautiously asked the question, Could these five cities possibly be the "cities of the plain" destroyed in Abraham's time?
It is too early to come to definite conclusions with respect to these baffling questions, but the discoveries so far made at Ebla are certainly cause for great rejoicing. In 1936 Dr. Albright wrote that "Genesis 14 used to be considered by most cautious scholars as unhistorical," but "now we are more mod est." 17 When Albright republished this article twenty years later, in 1955, he changed this sentence to read more positively, "Genesis 14 can no longer be considered as unhistorical, in view of the many confirmations of details which we owe to recent finds. " 18 What would Albright say now if he had lived to learn of the discoveries made at Ebla?
Curses of the Prophet Balaam
When the Israelites under the leader ship of Moses stood at the border of the Promised Land the nations around them trembled in great fear of what might happen to them. Among those terrified was Balak, the King of Moab. Sensing that he was not strong enough to vanquish the Israelites by force of arms, and believing that they could be made impotent by strong curses, he looked for an execrator who had the reputation for producing curses that were effective. It seems that the most successful diviner of international fame was a man who lived in the land of Amaw, between Aleppo and Carchemish in northern Syria, some 400 miles (c. 640 km.) north of Moab. His name was Balaam, the son of Beor, and he was known to Balak as a man whose blessings as well as his curses would come to pass (Num. 22:1-6).
I do not need to tell to this audience the story of Balaam's subsequent activities, and how he blessed Israel in spite of his own desires to curse that nation in order to earn the reward promised him by Balak. But I want to mention what Ellen White says about him: "Balaam was once a good man and a prophet of God; but he had apostatized, and had given himself up to covetousness; yet he still professed to be a servant of the Most High." —Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 439. Balak may not have known that Balaam was a worshiper of the same God whom the Israelites worshiped, or he might have been reluctant to summon this execrator for the purpose of cursing his enemies.
And now comes an archeological discovery, made not far from the area where Balaam blessed Israel, that shows that Balaam was famous far and wide as an execrator not only during his lifetime but even centuries after his death. A Dutch expedition working under the direction of Henk Franken at Deir 'Alla, the possible site of Biblical Succoth in the Jordan Valley, found in its 1967 sea son a large number of fragments of in scribed plaster. It took Prof. Jacob Hoftijzer, a well-known Dutch Semitist, nearly six years of study before he had combined the fragments into connecting slabs and deciphered them so that he could make the first announcement of their contents in 1973, 19 and another three years before the final publication lay before us in the form of a book of 324 pages and 28 plates that sells for $80. 20
The study of the plaster fragments revealed that they had originally covered a stone stela and that messages had been written on it allegedly coming from the prophet Balaam, the son of Beor. To write prophetic messages or laws on stelae was a common practice in the ancient Near East—for example, the law code of Hammurabi engraved on a basalt stela, about 8 feet (c. 2.45 m.) high—and was not foreign to the Bible writers. Moses instructed Joshua to erect a stela on Mount Ebal in Palestine, plaster it, and write the laws on the plaster (Deut. 27:4, R.S.V.), which Joshua did after he had led his people into the Promised Land (Joshua 8:32). Isaiah was directed by the Lord to write his message on a tablet, whether of stone, clay, or wood is not known, to be a perpetual witness for the "rebellious people" (Isa. 30:8, 9). The plaster inscriptions from Deir 'Alia must have had a similar purpose. In fact, they were written about 700 B.C., the time in which the prophet Isaiah lived. Earlier announcements had placed the inscriptions two hundred years later, but the latest word is that they must be dated to the late eighth century B.C. They were composed in an Aramaic dialect that hitherto was unknown. This fact materially added to the decipherer's difficulties in making sense out of the texts, which, to make matters worse, had been preserved only in a very fragmentary form.
The inscriptions claim that Balaam, the son of Beor, called a "seer" just as in the Bible, had received divine mes sages from certain gods in dreams of the night. The messages consisted of curses on a city of which the name has not been preserved. The people involved, how ever, rejected his curses and told him, "In foolishness and madness [you took] a wicked message upon your tongue. We shall seek redress against you so that it will be impossible for you to curse any one again."
We do not know whether the plastered stela, inscribed with curses allegedly coming from Balaam, was erected by Israelites or pagans. The fact that the text speaks of gods does not rule out the Israelites as authors of the message, be cause we know from the Scriptures that they often fell into idolatry and polytheism during the periods of the judges and the kings. But what is of interest is the fact that Balaam's fame as a successful execrator had evidently not died out when he lost his life (Num. 31:8). To the contrary, his fame remained alive for centuries, at least in Transjordan, so that his name was used by people, unknown to us, in the time of Isaiah to give weight to curses that were supposed to bring catastrophes and misfortunes to a certain city.
A Schoolboy's Exercise Book From Ebenezer
In the summer of 1976, excavations were carried out at Izbet Sarta under the direction of Moshe Kochavi, of Tel Aviv University. This site, located about 2 miles (c. 3 km.) east of Aphek, is most probably the Biblical Eben-ezer, where Israel lost the ark in a battle with the Philistines (1 Sam. 4:1; 5:1) and where twenty years later the Israelites obtained a decisive victory over their enemies under the generalship of the prophet Samuel (chap. 7:10-12).
During the excavations at this site an ostracon, an inscribed potsherd, was found that contained five lines of writing in the Hebrew alphabetic script of about 1200 B.C., the period of the judges. On the lowest, the fifth line, the full Hebrew alphabet was written from the first letter, 'aleph, to the last letter, taw, but with one letter, mem, missing probably due to a lapse of memory on the part of the writer. The top four lines are written in another handwriting and make no sense. They are the result of someone practicing the writing of the Hebrew letters; hence the ostracon is a student's exercise book. The teacher had evidently written the alphabet on the tablet and then given it to a student to practice writing.21 I will now show you that the value of this humble find is far greater than it may seem to be at first glance.
First, it shows that the Hebrew alpha bet was memorized in the same sequence as we know it now, 3,200 years later. It is only a few decades ago that critical scholars doubted that Moses could have written books as traditionally attributed to him, in Hebrew, since there was no evidence that a system of alphabetic writing existed at that early time in history. Then came the discovery of the Proto-Semitic stone inscriptions at Sinai by Flinders Petrie, which had been produced in the middle of the second millennium B.C. This discovery was later followed by the finding of hundreds of alphabetic cuneiform tablets at Ugarit by the French, dated to the fifteenth to thirteenth centuries B.C. These discoveries killed once and for all the argument that Moses could not have written Genesis or any other book" for lack of a Hebrew script. And now we find that the alphabetic characters were memorized in a sequence that underwent no changes during the many centuries that the He brew script has been in use, and which we still use to find a word in a Hebrew dictionary.
Incidentally, this humble potsherd from Eben-ezer is the earliest document written in Hebrew so far discovered, since it is 200 years older than the "Gezer Calendar," which hitherto had been our earliest Hebrew document.
Second, the letters 'ayin and pe are found in reverse order on the Eben-ezer ostracon, where they occur in the order pe-'ayin. However, this strange sequence is also found in the acrostic pas sages of the book of Lamentations. In chapters 1-4 of that book the complete Hebrew alphabet is used four times in the sequence in which the letters were memorized. In chapters 1, 2, and 4 the first verse of each chapter begins with a word of which the first letter is an 'aleph, the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and each successive verse begins with a Hebrew word of which the first character is the next letter in line in the alpha bet, for which reason each of these chapters has twenty-two verses, since the Hebrew alphabet consists of twenty-two characters. In chapter 3 each letter is used three times, to begin three verses in a row, throughout the chapter. There fore chapter 3 consists of sixty-six verses. However, for centuries Jewish and Christian commentators have been baffled by the fact that in chapters 2, 3, and 4, but not in chapter 1, the sequence pe-'ayin is found instead of the common sequence 'ayln-pe, which is used regularly in other Biblical acrostic passages and in the Hebrew alphabet currently in use. The Eben-ezer ostracon reveals that this reversed order of the two letters must have been a commonly acceptable variant and can no longer be considered to be an error, repeated three times by the author of Lamentations.
Third, the Eben-ezer ostracon is an example of a schoolboy's exercise book, indicating that the art of writing was much more widely known and used in Palestine than in other civilized countries, such as Egypt, where only professional scribes were acquainted with the intricate systems of writing employed in those countries. This observation agrees with the impression one gets from reading the Bible, namely that in the time of the judges a knowledge of reading and writing was widespread among the population of Palestine. An example of this impression is found in Judges 8:14, which relates that the Judge Gideon on his return from pursuing the Midianites picked up a young man somewhere in the neighborhood of Succoth in Transjordan and had him write down the names of the officials and elders of his hometown, whom Gideon wanted to punish for having refused to provide food for his weary soldiers when, earlier in the war, they had passed by.
You can see how even a schoolboy's exercise book, 3,200 years old, can have its value for the student of the Bible, in spite of the fact that this ostracon contains neither a historical nor a literary composition.
Schismatic Solomonic Temples
The excavations at Arad and Beersheba by the late Prof. Yohanan Aharoni have illuminated certain Biblical pas sages and materially added to our knowledge with regard to Solomon's apostasy, as well as to the reform activities of Hezekiah and Josiah. From the Scripture we learn that "when Solomon was old, ... his [many foreign] wives turned away his heart after other gods" and that he built high places, namely open-air sanctuaries, to the gods Kemosh of Moab and Milkom of Ammon and for the gods of "all his strange [foreign] wives" (1 Kings 11:4-8). Such schismatic sanctuaries seem to have been built not only in Jerusalem, where the Bible specifically mentions them, but throughout the country; and they seem to have been kept in use at least until the time of Hezekiah, who removed the "high places and altars" (2 Kings 18:22). In some cases the wicked Manasseh, Hezekiah's son and successor, rebuilt these sanctuaries (2 Kings 21:3), after which they remained in use until the pious King Josiah finally made an end of them by destroying them "from Geba to Beer-sheba" (2 Kings 23:5, 8, 13).
The ruin site of Arad lies about 18 miles (c. 29 km.) east of Beer-sheba and about 15 miles (c. 24 km.) west of the southern part of the Dead Sea in the southern desert of Palestine, called in the Hebrew Bible the Negeb. During the excavations of the citadel mound of Arad conducted in five seasons, from 1962 to 1967, Aharoni made a startling discovery. He found the remains of a comparatively well-preserved temple built originally in the tenth century B.C., namely during the reign of Solomon (Stratum XI). This temple was enlarged in the ninth century (Stratum X), but was finally put out of use by King Josiah in the seventh century when a new citadel wall was built right over it (Stratum VI).
Even before Solomon built this temple there had been an open-air sanctuary at the same site (Stratum XII). The temple replaced this "high place" by a cult structure consisting of a large courtyard, a sanctuary, and a Holy of Holies. The courtyard contained an altar of burnt offerings built of unhewn stones. This altar had approximately the same size as the altar of burnt offerings in the tabernacle built by Moses. In front of the entrance to the sanctuary, but still in the courtyard, were two column bases which must have supported two free-standing columns. They remind us of the two columns Jachin and Boaz placed in front of the Temple of Jerusalem by Solomon's Phoenician architect. The Holy of Holies of the temple at Arad was a large niche in the western wall of the sanctuary consisting of a platform reached by three steps. On the steps stood two altars of incense, one 15Vi inches (c. 40 cm.) and the other 20 inches (c. 51 cm.) high. The tops of the altars are concave, in the form of flat bowls, in which burned organic matter was found, probably the remains of animal fat. Inside the Holy of Holies which, by the way, has been transported to and reconstructed in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem was a round-topped stone stela, a Hebrew massebah, about 40 inches (c. 1 m.) high, and painted red.
Dr. Aharoni, the excavator, believes that the deity worshiped in this temple was Yahweh, but this is far from certain. An ostracon of c. 600 B.C. found during the excavations of Arad mentions the "House [i.e. temple] of Yahweh," but it is not clear whether this phrase refers to the local temple at Arad or to the central Temple in Jerusalem. 22 Anyway, the discovery of the Arad temple is of extreme importance, because it has given us for the first time a schismatic temple built in Solomon's time which with an interruption, probably in the time of Hezekiah, was in use until Josiah eliminated it by building a citadel wall right over it. Since this new structure covered up the temple and made it thus useless, Josiah, contrary to his practice else where, evidently did not bother to destroy it. In this way the Arad temple, including its cult paraphernalia, was preserved for the modern archeologist and has become a witness to the apostasy of Israel in general and of Solomon in particular.
Also the excavation at Beer-sheba, conducted by Aharoni from 1969 until his untimely death in 1976, made a most valuable contribution to this matter of Israel worshiping either the true God or foreign gods in sanctuaries not authorized by the Lord. Beer-sheba is mentioned specifically as the southern limit of places where Josiah destroyed sanctuaries (2 Kings 23:8), and the prophet Amos alludes twice to a cult at Beersheba not divinely approved (Amos 5:5; 8:14) by lumping it together with cult services performed at Dan and Bethel, cities which are both known as having had sanctuaries where golden calves were worshiped.
As I already mentioned in my Introduction to these talks, in 1973 Aharoni found blocks of stone reused in a wall built in the time of Hezekiah, which, when reassembled, formed a horned altar of cubical shape, about 601/i inches (c. 1.55 m.) square and about 61 inches (c. 1.57 m.) high, measured from the top of the horns to the bottom of the altar. This is the equivalent of about three Biblical cubits. 23
The site of the sanctuary of Beersheba has not yet been located with certainty; in fact a rather heated debate has been carried on by the excavators and Prof. Yigael Yadin, Israel's most famous archeologist, concerning this subject, with the two sides violently disagreeing with each other. However, the discovery of the altar, the first Israelite altar constructed of well-dressed stones ever found in Palestine, has in a most welcome way confirmed the interpretation given to the Amos passages in The SDA Bible Commentary and the SDA Bible Dictionary.
Some Unusual Seals
Practically every ancient man of distinction carried a seal. In Mesopotamia seals were usually small perforated cylinders of stone into which usually both a pictorial design and the name of the owner were engraved. Such seals were rolled over the wet clay of cuneiform tablets after the texts had been written on them. The seal impressions thus served the same purpose as modern signatures. In Palestine, where the writing material was mainly papyrus, the most common seals were stamp seals. They were small oblong stones with one side a smooth, flat surface and the other side convex. Such seals were either mounted in ringer rings or perforated lengthwise so that they could be carried on strings around the neck as Judah, Jacob's son, evidently did (Gen. 38:18, R.S.V.). From the great number of seals that have been found in Palestine it is obvious that nearly every adult man of importance owned a seal on which was, in addition to a design, his name and sometimes also the name of his father, engraved in ancient Hebrew characters. Some seals carry only a name or names and no design. A great number of the names- on such ancient seals discovered in Pales tine occur also in the Bible, but it is hardly ever possible to know whether these names belonged to individuals mentioned by these names in the Bible.
There are a few exceptions to this rule. During the excavation of Megiddo by the Germans in 1904, for example, a jasper seal came to light which shows a roaring lion and carries the inscription, "Belonging to Shema', the servant [i.e. minister] of Jeroboam." 24 This Jeroboam was undoubtedly King Jeroboam II, who ruled over the northern kingdom of Israel from 793 to 753 B.C.
However, I want to draw your attention to three seals recently found, of which two seem to have belonged to royal princes of Judah before they be came kings, while the third was owned by no less a person than the secretary of the prophet Jeremiah.
In 1963 Prof. N. Avigad, of the He brew University in Jerusalem, published an agate seal, dated on paleographic grounds to the eighth or seventh century B.C. Its inscription in two horizontal lines reads, "Belonging to Manasseh, son of the king." On top of the inscription and separated from it by a line is a design consisting of a star, the crescent of the moon, and a blob which may represent the sun. 25 Here we have most probably the seal of the crown prince, Manasseh, the son of the pious king Hezekiah. The design is of special interest, because it says in the Bible that Manasseh after becoming king introduced in Jerusalem a cult including altars to "all the host of heaven" (2 Kings 21:5). It seems that Manasseh as a young prince had come under the influence of a tutor who introduced him to the worship of the sun, moon, and stars. It is probably more than a coincidence that the seal of this prince contains a design representing the symbols of the heavenly bodies to which he built altars in the Temple courts as soon as he came to the throne.
In 1969 Avigad published another seal, this time a jasper seal of the late seventh century B.C. Its design shows a rooster, while the inscription reads, "Belonging to Jehoahaz, son of the king." 26 Jehoahaz was the son of Josiah and became king after his father's death at Megiddo. However, Pharaoh Necho deposed him after a brief reign of three months and sent him as a prisoner to Egypt, where he died (2 Kings 23:29-33). The seal under discussion probably belonged to Jehoahaz while he was still a prince during his father's life.
It is possible, though unlikely, that the two princely seals, just described, may not have belonged to Manasseh, the son of KingHezekiah, and to Jehoahaz, the son of King Josiah, since royal princes of other kings may possibly have borne these same names, for both seals fail to give us the names of their fathers, simply stating that they were sons of kings. But such doubts with regard to the identity of its owner cannot be entertained concerning a seal that I will now mention.
A few months ago the news reached me concerning a seal discovered in Jerusalem, which has not yet been published. 27 Its inscription reads, "Belonging to Baruch, son of Neriah." Who was this Baruch? The secretary of the prophet Jeremiah, who according to Jeremiah 36:4 wrote in a scroll all the mes sages of Jeremiah as the prophet dictated them to him. He also went into hiding together with his master when King Jehoiakim sought to kill both of them (verse 26) for having produced and read in public the messages of rebuke and doom which the scroll contained. In Jeremiah 45 is recorded a special, consoling message of the God of Israel to Baruch, the son of Neriah. It was given to Jeremiah for him during a period of despondency caused by the fact that his service to Jeremiah had brought him into troubles with the authorities, troubles which had not been of his seeking. I am fully convinced that this seal is the very seal which the Biblical Baruch, son of Neriah, secretary of the great prophet Jeremiah, once owned. It is a small but, in my eyes, a remarkable discovery.
The mental illness of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon has posed one of the two remaining unsolved problems of the Book of Daniel, the other being the identity of Darius the Mede. Several problems connected with Daniel that vexed scholars of previous generations have been solved to the satisfaction of those who believe in the sixth-century B.C. authorship of the book and in its historical authenticity. Among these problems, solved primarily through archeological discoveries during the past hundred years, are the identity of Belshazzar, the occurrence of Greek words in Daniel, and apparent chronological difficulties.
In 1956 a fragment of a Hebrew document found in Qumran Cave IV and labeled "Prayer of Nabonidus" was published by J. T. Milik. In it Nabonidus, the last king of Babylon, claims to have been healed by a Jew from a bad inflammation that had tormented him for seven years, after he had ceased to worship his idols. 28 The badly broken leather fragment, written about 100 B.C., was hailed at once by liberal scholars as providing the answer to the questions raised by Daniel 4, where the madness of Nebuchadnezzar is recorded. It has been asserted that the author of Daniel, writing the book— according to commonly held liberal views during the second century B.C., had confused Nabonidus with Nebuchadnezzar, although there were not only similarities in the two stories but also marked differences. Nabonidus was plagued by a bad inflammation in the city of Tema in Arabia, according to the Qumran scroll fragment, while Nebuchadnezzar was afflicted with a mental illness in the city of Babylon, according to the Bible. The best explanation is that the Qumran fragment contains one of the numerous Jewish legends, of which a rich apocryphal and pseudepigraphal literature exists, and that the "Prayer of Nabonidus" has nothing to do with Nebuchadnezzar's unfortunate experi ence.
And now comes what seems to be the solution to our problem from a cuneiform tablet that has belonged to the treasures of the British Museum for many years but was published only three years ago.29 Unfortunately, the tab let (BM 34113 [sp. 213] is broken, as are so many other cuneiform tablets. Its fragmentary condition is the main reason that not everything it contains is as clear as we would like it to be. I am presenting here only the best-preserved lines of this text in translation as provided by the editor of the text, Prof. A. K. Grayson:
2 [Nebu]chadnezzar considered [... ...]
3 His life appeared of no value to [him, ......]
5 And (the) Babylon(ian) speaks bad counsel to Evil-Merodach [...]
6 Then he gives an entirely different order but [...]
7 He does not heed the word from his lips, the courftier(s) ...]
11 He does not show love to son and daughter [...]
12 [...] family and clan does not exist [...]
14 His attention was not directed towards promoting the welfare of Esagil [and Babylon]
16 He prays to the lord of lords, he raised [his hands (in supplication) ...]
17 He weeps bitterly to Marduk, the great] gods [... ...]
18 His prayers go forth, to [... ...]
The following remarks will help you to understand the parts of this text. Brackets  indicate words or letters that are broken off from the original tablet, but which have been supplied by the translator. Words or letters in parentheses () are supplied by the translator for a better understanding of the English rendering. The numerals preceding the lines of text indicate the lines of the tablet that are quoted. Lines missing here are either too badly damaged to make any sense, or are not fully comprehensible and there fore make no contribution to a better understanding of the text as a whole. The reader should note that the end of every line is missing, as indicated by dots within brackets; also the beginnings of lines 2 and 12 are broken off, although there is no doubt that the reconstruction of the beginning of line 2 is correct.
Evil-Merodach of line 5 was the eldest son of Nebuchadnezzar and his successor on the throne of Babylon after his death. He is mentioned in the Bible as having released King Jehoiachin of Judah from prison after his accession to the throne (2 Kings 25:27-30; Jer. 52:31- 34). Esagil, mentioned in line 14, is the name of the principal temple complex of Babylon, in which stood also the ziggurat, a temple-tower 300 feet high. The temple was dedicated to the worship of the country's chief god, Marduk, mentioned in line 17 of our text.
This text definitely refers to Nebuchadnezzar in lines 2 and 3, but it is not absolutely certain to whom line 6 and the following lines refer. Professor Grayson, the editor of the tablet, suggests that "the main theme seems to be the improper behavior of Evil-Merodach, particularly with regard to Esagil, fol lowed by a sudden and unexplained change of heart and prayers to Marduk." However, another interpretation of the poorly preserved text is also possible, especially if it is read in the light of Daniel 4, which relates Nebuchadnezzar's period of mental derangement for seven years.
Seen in this light, it is possible to detect, in lines 3, 6, 7, 11, 12 and 14, references to a strange behavior of Neb uchadnezzar, which was brought to the attention of Evil-Merodach by some state official(s) according to whose opinion, life had lost all value for his father, and that he, namely Nebuchadnezzar, gave contradictory orders, refused to accept the counsel of his courtiers, showed love to neither son nor daughter anymore, neglected his family, and per formed no longer his duties as head of state with regard to the Babylonian state religion and its principal temple. Seen in this light one can understand line 5 as referring to Babylonian state officials who, bewildered by the king's behavior, counseled Evil-Merodach to take over the affairs of state as long as his father would be incapable of carrying out his royal duties. Line 6 and following lines would then be a description of Nebuchadnezzar's strange behavior as described by his courtiers to Evil- Merodach.
Since Nebuchadnezzar recovered from his illness, as the Bible tells us (Dan. 4:36), the counsel of the king's courtiers to Evil-Merodach may later have been considered as ill-conceived or "bad" (line 5), but may at the time when it was rendered have been the wisest way out of the existing dilemma. Since Daniel tells us that Nebuchadnezzar was "driven from men" (verse 33) and later reinstated into his regal position by his officers of state (verse 36), it is possible that Evil-Merodach, Nebuchadnezzar's eldest son, served as regent during his father's incapacity, although official records continued to be dated according to the years of Nebuchadnezzar's reign as long as this king remained alive.
It is regrettable that this extremely important text has come down to us in such a deplorably fragmentary condition, but we are grateful that at least a small part of it has been preserved, since it seems to shed light on a Biblical narrative that so far has not been vindicated by extra-Biblical documentation.
Pilate and Nazareth
These two names, one of a Roman governor, and the other of a place in southern Galilee, have three things in common: (1) Both played a role in the life of Jesus, (2) both were almost unknown from non-Biblical sources, and (3) light has been shed on both of them by recent discoveries.
Pilate is known from the New Testament as the governor of Judea who condemned Jesus to death. He received only one mention in Roman sources (although he is mentioned by the Jews Josephus and Philo), and that is in connection with Jesus' death. Tacitus (Annals 15.44) speaks of the execution of Jesus by Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius. Critical scholars have suggested that the Christian tradition might have supplied this scanty bit of information to Tacitus, who wrote his Annals c. A.D. 115, and that it is therefore of no independent value. 30
This situation has changed since 1961. In that year an Italian expedition under the direction of Antonio Frova excavated the Roman theater in Caesarea. There, in a landing in a flight of steps at one of the entryways to the seats of the theater, a stone was found that bears the following fragmentary inscription in four lines:31
[. . .]S TIBERIEVM
[. . .]TIVS PILATVS [. . .] ECTVS IVDA [..]E
[.....] E [.....] This inscription can be restored to [Caesarieri\s (ibus) Tiberieum [Pon]tim Pilatus [praeflectus Iuda[ea]e [d]e[dif\.
This mutilated inscription, including its restored parts, says that "Pontius Pilate, the prefect of Judea, gave to the Caesareans the Tiberieum." The nature of the Tiberieum in Caesarea is unknown, but the guess of the excavators can be accepted for want of a better suggestion, namely that it was a temple dedicated to the cult of the emperor. While Tiberius is said to have refused to accept deification in the west, he tolerated divine adoration by people of the eastern parts of the empire.
But what is really important with regard to this discovery is the mention of Pontius Pilate as prefect of Judea. It had been thought that his title was procura tor, and the discovery that his official title was praefectus was a surprise for the scholarly world. It was known that the Roman governors of Egypt under Augustus were first called prefects, but that their title was later changed to that of procurators. It is still not known when this change took place, but it seems that it occurred later than had been assumed, possibly during Pilate's administration or soon thereafter. It was also a surprise that this inscription was composed in Latin, for most official Roman stone inscriptions found in Palestine were writ ten in Greek.
The little town of Nazareth in Galilee was even less attested in non-Biblical sources than Pilate. Its name does not occur in the Old Testament, nor in any ancient Jewish sources such as Josephus, the Talmud, or the Midrash. For that reason it must be assumed that Nazareth, the place where Jesus grew up, was a tiny and insignificant hamlet. This conclusion finds support in a statement of evaluation of Nazareth by Nathanael, who found it hard to believe that "any good thing" could "come out of Nazareth" (John 1:46). The earliest mention of Nazareth outside of the Bible is found in Eusebius' Church History (1.7.13-16) of the fourth century A.D., where the author quotes Julius Africanus, who had lived around A.D. 200. No wonder that occasionally critical scholars doubted that Nazareth had re ally existed and suggested that it may have been an invention of the Gospel writers.
However, this uncertainty with regard to Nazareth changed in the summer of 1962, when in the course of excavations undertaken at Caesarea under the direction of M. Avi-Yonah, three fragments of a Hebrew stone inscription were dis covered. One of them was incidentally picked up on the surface and has since been lost again, but the other two were found during the excavations and are now on display in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. 32 The three fragments formed originally parts of the same marble slab inscribed with the list of the twenty-four priestly courses as found in 1 Chronicles 24:7-18, but with the supplementary information as to where the members of each course lived at the time this tablet was made, namely in the third century A.D. Fragment A states that the priests of the eighteenth course, that of Hapizzez, lived in Nazareth.
From historical sources it is known that after the Bar-Kokhba revolt of the second century A.D. the Jews, who were no longer allowed to live in Jerusalem and its surrounding area, transferred the settlements of priests from Judea to the towns and villages of Galilee. There they tried to maintain their organizations and ritual purity in the hope of returning to Jerusalem as soon as the Temple could be rebuilt. The priests of the eighteenth course had evidently chosen Nazareth as their hometown, which is the reason that it is mentioned in this third-century marble tablet, which is now the earliest witness of the town's existence outside of the New Testament.
The Folly of the Cross
When I prepared these talks I was deeply moved by reading a book I had been requested to review for the Andrews University Seminary Studies: Martin Hengel's Crucifixion in the Ancient World and the Folly of the Message of the Cross (Philadelphia, 1977). Since the days of the Emperor Constantine the cross has been an honorable symbol of the Christian religion. Innumerable churches display crosses on their steeples, over their entrances, over their altars, and in stained-glass windows. People, especially the Christian clergy, wear crosses suspended from necklaces or belts, and no Christian is ashamed to see his Saviour, the Son of God, depicted as hanging on a cross. In fact we all consider it to be a symbol of victory and triumph.
This was not so in the early days of Christianity. Crucifixion as a mode of execution was inflicted throughout the Roman Empire on the lowest classes of people, slaves, who were considered chattels anyway, common criminals, and unruly foreign subjects. It was considered an effective deterrent, for which reason crucifixions were usually carried out in public squares and in the busiest streets and thoroughfares in order that the greatest number of people could witness them.
The victims were usually first flogged in such a cruel way that some were half dead when the actual crucifixion began. They were nailed to the crosses stark naked, and their legs were bent side ways, as shown by the skeleton of a crucified man that was found in a tomb near Jerusalem in 1968.33Often the rough and heartless Roman legionnaires even drove a big nail through the private parts of the victims, as Seneca tells us.34 Affixed to the cross for hours, some times for days, before they died, they could not care for their bodily needs, and were the objects of mockery and indignities from passers-by. Yet the population throughout the Roman Empire seems to have accepted crucifixion as a just retribution for criminals and hardly ever criticized it. It is necessary to picture this gruesome spectacle as vividly as possible so that one can fully realize what it meant for Jesus, the Son of the almighty God, to submit to such an or deal in order to save mankind.
Since crucifixion in the Roman world was the most shameful and the most dishonorable death any person could experience, it is understandable that Roman mythology knew of no god worthy of adoration who had been crucified, and that Roman sources with one exception knew of no national hero who had lost his life through crucifixion. The only exception is the Roman general Regulus, who had been crucified as a prisoner of war by the Carthaginians during the First Punic War. Tertullian used this example to point out to the enemies of the Christian religion that even they honored one of their heroes in spite of the fact that he had been crucified, which proves that an innocent man could suffer crucifixion under certain circumstances. 35
Now realize, if you can, what it meant for the Christian missionaries to spread a religion in which the central figure, the Saviour of mankind, had died as a convicted criminal by crucifixion. No wonder that "the word of the cross," the preaching of "Christ crucified," was "a stumbling block [skandalon] to the Jews" and utter "folly [moria] to the Gentiles" (1 Cor. 1:18, 23, R.S.V.) as Paul so pointedly says after about twenty years of experience in preaching to both Jews and Gentiles.
In how much contempt Christians were held for worshiping a convicted and executed criminal is illustrated by a caricature scratched, in the second century A.D., into the plaster of a wall on the Palatine Hill in Rome. It depicts a man in an attitude of adoration in front of a crucified man with the head of an ass, while the accompanying Greek inscription says in mockery: "Alexamenus worships his god." 36 Very few visitors to Rome see this piece of ancient plaster, discovered in 1856, which is now preserved in the Palatine Antiquarium, a museum located between the Domus Augustana and the Domus Flavia on the Palatine Hill, next to the famous Forum Romanum, which, generally speaking, no tourist misses visiting.
It is not only in the Catacombs or in the Mamertine prison but in this museum that the twentieth-century Christian can fully realize what it meant to be a Christian witness for a crucified god in the first or second centuries A.D.
The Tomb of Jesus
One of the most hotly debated questions among Protestant visitors to Jerusalem usually is: "Where was Jesus' tomb?" Members of other Christian denominations, such as Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox, or Copts, simply accept the site assigned to them by tradition, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, in the heart of the Old City of Jerusalem, and ask no questions. Protestants, how ever, are disturbed by the fact that the traditional site is not outside the city, where Christ, according to the Bible, was crucified and buried (John 19:20; Heb. 13:12, 13), and they have a hard time believing that a church about which several Christian bodies have quarreled for centuries can be the hallowed spot where their Saviour shed His blood for them and where He was buried and raised again.
It was probably mainly owing to this aversion toward the theatrical activities seen in the various cult performances in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher that a tomb of Late Roman or Early Byzantine origin, located near the site declared by General Gordon of Khartoum fame to be Golgotha, has been even considered to be the real tomb of Christ. This tomb, now known as the Garden Tomb, lies at a short distance north of the Damascus Gate. It was discovered in 1867, but the suggestion that it might be the tomb in which Jesus had been buried was not made until 1883. Later the tomb and its surrounding area were bought by a group of British Protestants, who consecrated it as a religious site. Until the present time it is administered by the Garden Tomb Association and is one of the real beauty spots of eastern Jerusalem.
In three articles published in the Re view and Herald in 1964 and 1965 I examined the claims of the two sides in detail, 37 and I refer you to these articles for further information. In the third of these articles I also presented the results of the excavations carried out from 1961 to 1963 by Kathleen Kenyon, perhaps the most experienced Palestinian archeologist, at a site, vacant at that time, that lay about 150 yards southeast of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. By digging down to bedrock she found no ancient building remains but a quarry at the bottom, which was covered by a fill nearly 42 feet (c. 13 m.) thick, which consisted of ancient refuse. This fill had been poured over the bedrock for the purpose of leveling the ground during a rebuilding and expansion program carried out by the Emperor Hadrian after the Bar-Kokhba revolt had been quenched in A.D. 135. These findings proved that the excavated site, and consequently also the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which lies just to the north west of it, had lain outside the city of Jerusalem in Christ's time. 38
Since that time additional evidence has come to light that corroborates Miss Kenyon's findings. Between the spot of Kenyon's excavations and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher lies the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, built under the auspices of the German Kaiser Wilhelm II from 1893 to 1898. A few years ago this monumental structure needed a thorough restoration after seven decades of existence. This restoration work was carried out in recent years under the direction of the German architect Ernst W. Kriiger. Since he removed most of the floor of the church so that he could thoroughly examine and strengthen the foundations of its walls, tower, and pillars, the welcome opportunity presented itself to dig down to bedrock at the same time and see whether the results would be different from those obtained in the Kenyon excavations.
This archeological work underneath the church was conducted under the direction of Ute Lux, the director of the German Archaeological Institute in Jerusalem from 1970 to 1971. The results were practically identical with those obtained by Miss Kenyon during her excavations, about one hundred yards to the south. Also Dr. Lux found the original rock to have been an ancient quarry, lying about 44 feet (c. 13.5 m.) under neath the floor of the church. On top of the rock was a fill of refuse, about 28 feet (c. 8.5 m.) thick, dated by the pottery found in it to the second century A.D. These excavations showed once more that the area south of the Holy Sepulcher, and therefore the church also, lay outside the inhabited city during the first century, and that the western city wall at that point must be sought east of the two areas of recent excavations.39
These discoveries do not prove that the traditional Church of the Holy Sepulcher stands on the true site of Christ's crucifixion and burial, but it increases the probability that it is the correct spot where these events took place, since its location in the heart of the present Old City of Jerusalem can no longer be used as an argument against the authenticity of the tradition.
This tradition seems to me worthy of acceptance, although I am usually extremely skeptical about the authenticity of traditional sites. Why do I believe this tradition may be correct? Because Christians lived in Jerusalem, with only a short interruption, from the time of Pentecost to the time of Constantine, when the Church of the Holy Sepulcher was built. Is it conceivable that the Christians living in the city outside of which their Redeemer had suffered had forgotten the site where He had shed His blood for them? Would they have been less curious than modern visitors of Jerusalem about the whereabouts of this important event in history? And if they had really forgotten the true site during the first three centuries of the Christian era, why would they have pointed out to Constantine the most unlikely spot, namely a site then covered by a Roman temple in the heart of their city? Eusebius, a con temporary historian of the events of that time, tells us that it was a real surprise when Constantine's builders unearthed a rock-hewn tomb after they removed the Roman temple structure in order to make space for the new church that was to be built in memory of Christ's death and resurrection.
While we are on the subject of the tomb of Christ, I want to make a suggestion to those of you who plan to visit the Holy Land in the future. If you want to see a typical first-century tomb of which the entrance was closed by a rolling stone, such as the tomb was in which Jesus' body was placed, visit the socalled tomb of King Herod's family, which is located south of the King David Hotel in western Jerusalem.
The first tomb of the same type ever discovered in Transjordan was found by the expedition of Andrews University in a cemetery of the Roman period at Heshbon in 1971. The low entrance to this rock-hewn tomb was also closed by a large rolling stone. In this family tomb the remains of seventy-seven individuals were found. If you ever visit the site of the first Adventist-sponsored and directed excavation, do not fail to ask your guide to take you to the "Rolling Stone Tomb," southwest of the village of Hesban.40
Discoveries Made in Jerusalem
It is only natural that Jerusalem has attracted Biblical archeologists more than any other site in the Holy Land. Therefore it should be no surprise to hear that the first excavations carried out by the British after the founding of the Palestine Exploration Fund in 1865 was in Jerusalem, where Charles Warren dug from 1867 to 1870, and that the first site chosen for excavations by the German Palestine Society, founded in 1877, was also Jerusalem, where Hermann Guthe conducted excavations in 1881. No wonder that also the State of Israel, soon after gaining possession of the Old City in 1967, began excavations in and around Jerusalem, which she has conducted on a grand scale ever since. 41
But in the past the rewards for archeological work in Jerusalem were rather meager. The reason is that Jerusalem has posed special problems to the archeologist, because the city has not only been destroyed many times but has also been inhabited uninterruptedly; in fact, most of the site of ancient Jerusalem is either densely populated, and therefore leaves little space for an ar cheologist to work, or it is holy ground, such as the ancient Temple area, now the third holiest Moslem shrine, and is con sequently unavailable for explorations.
When the State of Israel came into possession of all of Jerusalem as the result of her victory in the six-day war in 1967, several factors favored archeological work. The southern quarter of the Old City, called the Jewish Quarter, had been almost completely destroyed dur ing the 1948 war and had lain in ruins ever since. Before reconstruction by Is raeli builders began, an opportunity of fered itself to carry out excavations there. These have been conducted under the direction of Dr. Nahman Avigad since 1969 and are still continuing.
Furthermore, the whole area west of the Wailing Wall was made into an open square, and the area south of it, which was one of the few open spaces in the Old City, has been utilized for largescale excavations by Prof. Benjamin Mazar, the doyen of Israel's archeolo gists, who worked here with spectacular results from 1968 to 1977.
Since the city planning commission declared the Citadel a national monu ment, planning to make it into a museum of the history of Jerusalem, and also designated as a future park a strip of land outside of and adjacent to the ancient city walls, archeologists have had the opportunity to excavate these various areas before they were turned over to the developers. Ruth Amiran and Abra ham Eitan have thus been able to carry out excavations in the Citadel in 1968 and 1969, after which it has become a museum and an open-air theater for the nightly sound-and-light programs that focus on'the history of Jerusalem during the last four millennia. D. Bahat, M. Broshi, and others have carried out ex cavations near the city walls in various spots.
The results of all this work have been spectacular. They have provided us with information about the history of the socalled Holy City that was not available only ten short years ago. Because of the time available I can mention only a few of these results and must refer you to the book mentioned in Note 41 if you want to obtain a fuller picture of what the Israeli archeologists have accomplished in and around Jerusalem during the first seven years of excavations after the sixday war, which this book covers.
It has become clear that the building operations of Herod the Great, Hadrian, the Crusaders, and later builders have left few remains of Old Testament times to be discovered by the modern archeol ogist, because these builders of monu mental structures—temples, churches, and other public buildings—usually had to lay their foundations on bedrock and thus disturbed and mostly destroyed all vestiges of earlier times. Nevertheless, a few extremely important discoveries pertaining to the topographical history of Jerusalem in Old Testament times have been made in the Jewish Quarter.
Here Dr. Avigad found a sector of a city wall of which he was able so far to excavate about 213 feet (65 m.) of its length. This wall is 23 feet (7 m.) thick and is located about 900 feet (c. 275 m.) west of the Temple Mount. This wall was constructed either in the late eighth or the early seventh century B.C., namely under King Hezekiah, whose building activities are recorded in 2 Chronicles 32:5. Some long-standing questions con cerning the topographical history of Je rusalem have in this way been answered: Was the western hill already included in pre-exilic Jerusalem? If so, how much of the western hill was enclosed by a wall? These and related questions were fre quently debated in the scholarly litera ture during the past hundred years, but a definitive answer could not be given. Now we know that about half of the western hill was enclosed by a wall since the time of Hezekiah. This part of the city carried the name Mishneh, "Second Quarter" (2 Kings 22:14, R.S.V.). The discovery of this wall sector requires now that changes be made on practi cally every map of Old Testament Jeru salem, including that found on page 556 of the SDA Bible Dictionary.
Furthermore, during the 1975 season of excavations in the Jewish Quarter, Dr. Avigad discovered a massive tower of pre-exilic Jerusalem, less than 150 feet (c. 45 m.) from the wall sector al ready mentioned and presumably be longing to the same defense system. On the last day of his dig season his as sistants found four arrowheads buried in the ashes at the base of that tower. The arrowheads, one of iron and three of bronze, have the typical shape of ar rowheads used by the Babylonian army, and are thought to be the first remains ever recovered of the two-year Babylo nian siege, which finally ended with the capture and destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple in 586 B.C.
Much richer in quantity than the finds from Old Testament times are those of New Testament Jerusalem. Avigad ex cavated several private houses de stroyed by Titus in A.D. 70. Among them was one, apparently the home of a wealthy family, which covered more than 2,000 square feet (c. 186 sq. m.). It included a series of rooms arranged around a central courtyard in which was a water reservoir, partly vaulted over. The dishes found in the ruins of this house were of the finest imported Roman dinnerware, and delicately carved stone vessels, as well as an ornamental stone table, witnessed to the artistic taste of the occupants of this luxuriously fur nished home.
At the southwestern corner of the Temple area, Professor Mazar removed thousands of tons of debris before reaching the paved streets of Herodian Jerusalem, the Jerusalem of Christ's time. These streets were covered with large blocks of stone that had fallen from the Temple walls towering high over the city when the Roman soldiers of Titus demolished it. He uncovered also a large number of rows of masonry of the enor mous southern retaining wall of the Temple platform built by Herod the Great. In some places 34 rows of ma sonry, each 3% feet (c. 1.14 m.) thick, are preserved, and some of these blocks of stone have a length of 34Vi feet (c. 10.5 m.). They are beautifully cut and fitted so well together that no mortar was needed between the stones. Having been protected by the accumulated debris for nearly two thousand years, the blocks of stones of the excavated part of the Herodian wall have not weathered; they look as if they had just left the stone masons' hands. Seeing this wall helps one to understand better how Christ's disciples looked with awe and admira tion on Jerusalem's Temple structures (Matt. 24:1).
Exceedingly impressive also is a mon umental stairway, 210 feet (64 m.) wide and consisting of 30 steps, which led from a plaza south of the Temple area to the Double Gate in the southern retain ing wall of the Temple platform. This gate gave access to the Outer Temple Court, the Court of the Gentiles, via a sloping subterranean ramp, which reached the surface of the court just north of the Royal Stoa. One has to see these remains of New Testament Jerusalem to appreciate fully the beauty of that city in Christ's time.
Among other discoveries made in Je rusalem during the past ten years'! could mention the finding of the remains of the Nea, one of the largest Byzantine churches in Jerusalem, built by the Em peror Justinian in the sixth century and destroyed a hundred years later by the Persians. Furthermore, I could describe a Roman bath installation discovered in the city, or the colonnaded north-south main street, called the Cardo, of which a sector has recently been discovered, or I could talk to you about inscriptions on stone, plaster, or potsherds, and about the thousands of different objects that have come to light in the course of these excavations, but enough has been said to give you a glimpse of some of the excit ing discoveries made in Jerusalem during the past ten years.
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* The following abbreviations are used in the notes: ASOR American Schools of Oriental Research; AVSS—Andrews University Seminary Studies; BA—Biblical Archaeologist; BASOR—Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research; IEJ—Israel Exploration Journal; JBL—
Journal of Biblical Literature; RB—Revue Biblique.
1 W. F. Albright, "The Bible After Twenty Years of Archeology," Religion in Life, 21 (1952), 537.
2 Siegfried H. Horn and Lynn H. Wood, The Chronology of Ezra 7 (2d ed.; Washington, 1970).
3 Horn, "Did Sennacherib Campaign Once or Twice Against Hezekiah?" AUSS, 4 (19661. 1-28.
4 D. J. Wiseman, Chronicles of Chaldaean Kings (London, 1956); Horn, "The Babylonian Chronicle and the Ancient Calendar of the Kingdom of Judah," AUSS, 5 (1967), 12-27.
5 G. E. Wright, Shechem: The Biography of a Biblical City (New York, 1965), dates the existence of the last fortress-temple 2b between 1200 and 1100 B.C. (p. 122), while the SDA Bible Dictionary dates Abimelech's reign to 1171-1168 B.C. (p. 205).
6 Yohanan Aharoni, "The Horned Altar of Beersheba," BA, 37 (1974), 2-6.
7 Lawrence T. Geraty, "Excavations at Tell Hesban, 1976," ASOR Newsletter, 8 (January, 1977), 3.
8 Albright, "A Letter From the Time of Josiah," J. B. Pritchard, ed., Ancient Near Eastern Texts, 3d ed. (Princeton, 1969), p. 568.
9 Major archeological excavations from 1900 to the outbreak of World War I in 1914 uncovered the following nine sites (A American, Au Austrian, B British, F French, G German sponsorship or directorship): Bethshemesh (B), Capernaum (G), Gezer (B), Jericho (G), Jerusalem (F, B), Megiddo (G), Samaria (A), Shechem (AU), and Taanach (Au).
10 During the years between the two World Wars, from 1918 to 1939 the following 30 major excavations took place (in addition to the abbreviations already mentioned in note 9 the following are used: D Danish, I Israeli, It Italian): Afula (I), Ai (F), Aroer (A), Ashkelon (B), Bethel (A), Bethshean (A), Beth-shemesh (A), Bethzur (A), Carmel Caves (B), Ezion-geber (A), Gerasa (A), Gibeah (A), Jericho (B), Jerusalem (B, F), Khirbet el-Mefjar (B), Khirbet Tannur (A), Lachish (B), Mamre (G), Megiddo (A), Nessana (B), Samaria (B), Shechem (G), Shiloh (D), Teleilat el-Ghassul (It), Tell Abu Hawam (B), Tell Beit Mirsim (A), Tell el-Ajjul (B), Tell el-Farah, South (B), Tell en-Nasbeh (A), Tell Jemneh (B).
11 Since the end of World War II the following 76 major excavations have taken place (new abbreviations are, Ja Japanese, J Jordanian, N Netherlands, S Spanish): Abu Gosh (F), Acco (I), Achzib (I), Ader (A), Ai (A), Amman (It, B, J), Aphek (I), Arad (I), Araq el-Emir (A, F), Ashdod (I), Azor (F), Bab edh-Dhra (A), Beer-sheba (I), Bethel (A), Beth-shearim (I), Bethzur (A), Buseirah (B), Caesarea (I, It, A), Capernaum (It), Dan (I), Deir 'Alia (N), Dir el-Balah (I), Desert Caves (A, F, I), Dibon (A), Dothan (A), Eben-ezer (I), el-Khiam (S), En-gedi (I), En-gev (I), es-Siagah (It), Gezer (A), Gibeah (A), Gibeon (A), Hazor (I), Hebron (A), Herodium (It), Heshbon (A), Jaffa (I), Jawa (B), Jericho (B), Jerusalem (B, F, I), Kadesh-Barnea (I), Khirbet el-Mshash (I, G), Khirbet Kerak (I), Kurnub (I), Lachish (I), Lahav (A), Masada (I), Megiddo (I), Meiron (A), Nahariyeh (I), Nazareth (It), Pella (A), Petra (B, A), Qumran (F), Ramat Rachel (I), Sahab (J), Shechem (A), Taanach (A), Tel Anafa (A), Teleilat el-Ghassul (A, B), Tell el-Farah, North (F),
Tell el-Hesi (A), Tell er-Rumeith (A), Tell esh-Sheih Ahmed (I), Tell es-Seidiyeh (A), Tell Jemmeh (A), Tell Keisan (F), Tel Malhata (I), Tel Nagila (A, I), Tel Zeror (Ja), Timna (I), TJbeidiyeh (I), Umm Qeis (G), Wadi Beidha (B), Wadi Daliyah (A). Excellent summaries of most of the major excavations, all written by professionals and accompanied by many illustrations, are presented in Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy
Land, ed. M. Avi-Yonah and E. Stern (4 vols; Jerusalem, 1975-1977).
12 Of the numerous articles that have appeared in various periodicals on the discoveries at Ebla, I will mention a few authoritative articles, written in a popular style by the excavator and the epigrapher of the expedition, which are readily accessible: Paolo Matthiae, "Ebla in the Late Early Syrian Period: The Royal Palace and the State Archives," BA, 39 (1976), 94-113; Giovanni Pettinato, "The Royal Archives of Tell Mardikh-Ebla," ibid., pp. 44-52; [N.
Freedman] "A Letter to the Readers," ibid., 40 (1977), 2-4.
13 Matthiae, op. cit., p. 103; Pettinato, op. cit., p. 45.
14 Albright, The Biblical Period From Abraham to Ezra (New York, 1963), p. 2; Nelson Glueck, Rivers in the Desert (New York, 1959), pp. 60 ff.
15 The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 1, p. 192; SDA Bible Dictionary, p. 205.
16 R. T. Schaub, "An Early Bronze IV Tomb From Bat edh-Dhra," BASOR, No. 210 (April, 1973), pp. 17, 18; W. E. Rast, "Discoveries in the Environs of Bab edh-Dhra'," ASOR Newsletter, 8 (April, 1974), 1-7.
17 Albright, Recent Discoveries in Bible Lands, in R. Young's Analytical Concordance to the Bible (New York, 1936), supplement, p. 27.
18 Albright, Recent Discoveries in Bible Lands (Pittsburgh, 1955), p. 75.
19 The paper of Dr. Hoftijzer, which appeared originally in Dutch, was published in an English translation made by W. L. Holladay under the title "The Prophet Balaam in a 6th-Century Aramaic Inscription," BA, 39 (1976), 11-17.
20 J. Hoftijzer and G. van der Kooij, Aramaic Texts From Deir 'Alla (Leiden, 1976).
21 M. Kochavi, "An Ostracon of the Period of the Judges From 'Izbet Sarta," Tel Aviv, 4 (1977), 1-13; A. Demsky, "A Pro'to-Canaanite Abecedary Dating From the Period of the Judges and Its Implications for the History of the Alphabet," ibid., pp. 14-27.
22 Aharoni, "Arad: Its Inscriptions and Temple," BA, 31 (1968), 2-32; "Arad," Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land, Vol. I, pp. 82-89.
23 See note 6.
24 J. B. Pritchard, The Ancient Near East in Pictures (Princeton, 1954), Fig. 276.
25 Nahman Avigad, "A Seal of 'Manasseh Son of the King,'" IE}, 13 (1963), 133-136.
26 Avigad, "A Group of Hebrew Seals," Eretz-Israel, 9 (1969), 134, PI. 2:21.
27 I owe this news to Dr. Larry Herr, of Andrews University, who got this information from Prof. Frank M. Cross, of Harvard University, after the latter, one of the foremost Hebrew epigraphers, returned from a visit to Jerusalem, where he had learned of the discovery of this seal from Dr. Avigad.
28 J. T. Milik, " 'Priere de Nabonide' et autres ecrits d'un cycle de Daniel," RB, 63 (1956), 407-415; D. N. Freedman, "The Prayer of Nabonidus," BASOR, No. 145 (February, 1957), 31, 32.
29 A. K. Grayson, Babylonian Historical-Literary Texts (Toronto, 1975), pp. 87-92.
30 S. Sandmel, "Pilate, Pontius," The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible (Nashville, 1962), 3:811.
31 A. Frova, "L'iscrizione di Ponzo Pilato a Cesarea," Rendiconti, Istituto Lombardo, Academia de Scienze e Lettere, 95 (1961), 419-434; J. Vardaman, "A New Inscription Which Mentions Pilate as 'Prefect,'" JBL, 81 (1962), 70, 71.
32 M. Avi-Yonah, "A List of Priestly Courses From Caesarea," IEJ, 12 (1962), 136-139.
33 V. Tzaferis, "Jewish Tombs at and Near Giv 'at ha-Mivtar, Jerusalem," IEJ, 20 (1970), 18-32; N. Haas, "Anthropological Observations on the Skeletal Remains From Giv 'at ha-Mivtar," ibid., pp. 49-59; Y. Yadin, "Epigraphy and Crucifixion," IEJ, 23 (1973), 18-22; V. MjSller-Christensen, "Skeletal Remains From Giv 'at ha-Mivtar," IEJ, 26 (1976), 35-38.
34 Seneca, Dialogue 6 (De consolatione ad Marciam), 20.3.
35 Tertullian, Ad Nationes, 1.18.5.
36 Pictures of this caricature of the crucifixion are found in many publications: see for example, Jack Finegan, Light From the Ancient Past (Princeton, 1946), Fig. 124.
37 Horn, "The Site of Golgotha—Church of the Holy Sepulcher," Review and Herald, 141 (Jan. 16, 1964), 1, 8-10; "Gordon's Golgotha and the Garden Tomb," ibid., 141 (Jan. 23, 1964), 2-4; "More Light on the Authenticity of the Holy Sepulcher," ibid., 142 (April 29, 1965), 2, 3, 6.
38 Kathleen M. Kenyon, Digging up Jerusalem (New York, 1974), pp. 226-235.
39 Ute Lux, "Vorlaufiger Bericht uber die Ausgrabung unter der Erloser-kirche im Muristan in der Altstadt von Jerusalem in den Jahren 1970 und 1971," ZDPV, 88 (1972), 184-201; Kenyon, op. cit., p. 261.
40 S. Douglas Waterhouse, "Areas E and F," AUSS, 11 (1973), 115-117, Plate XI:A.
41 The results of the excavations carried out by Israeli scholars from 1968 to 1974 have conveniently been published in popular form under the title Jerusalem Revealed, ed. by Y. Yadin (Jerusalem, 1975).